Henk van de Ven gets his way on solar policy

ALBURY councillors Henk van de Ven and Alice Glachan have clashed on the timing of the installation of solar panels on eight council buildings, including its Kiewa Street headquarters, Library Museum and airport.

Cr van de Ven succeeded at the council’s planning and development committee this week in bringing forward the full installation cost of $659,262 to next financial year.

The move is subject to council approval.

Former mayor, Cr Glachan, wanted the costs pushed back a year due to the imminent release of the 2014-15 draft budget.

Her amendment mustered the support of only Cr Patricia Gould and Cr Graham Docksey.

Cr van de Ven argued funds could be drawn from invested money.

“We’ve had enough reports to show there is a consistency in the return we will get,” he said.

“I’ve been consistent about this being done as one major project.

“You pay in a short period of time and you reap the benefit in operational savings for a long time.

“It would also show we are serious about reducing greenhouse gases.”

The committee endorsed the 2014-18 energy savings plan and its roll-out, which includes installing solar panels on council buildings over the next three financial years.

The report, by council’s sustainability and environment team leader Matthew Dudley, showed the council spent almost $8 million on electricity, fuel and gas in 2012-13 — 7 per cent of its budget.

The figure almost doubled since 2006-07.

The council already has solar panels on the Banjora childcare centre.

Panels on the eight buildings are expected to save the city almost $86,000 a year.

Other energy-saving measures identified in the plan for the next three financial years are expected to save $349,080 a year on an outlay of $1.4 million. Another $1 million is projected to be spent in 2017-18.

Cr Glachan said the one-off cost would hit the draft budget due for release this month.

She said after months of work trying to achieve a balanced budget, “I would prefer a report come back for further discussion”.

The largest solar panel installation cost will be on council’s headquarters at $167,598.